Can’t honestly say I know what it feels like to have a proper Dad.
Well, actually, I tell a lie. My Mum dated a guy years ago when I was around seven, his name was Jackie, and I had a momentary glimpse of sanity, of what having a proper father was like. I wasn’t his of course, but he took me on as his own, and I look back and think that’s what a father should be like. That’s what unconditional love should feel like. He would take me out on his own somewhere every Saturday, to play snooker, or pool, or walks, or, y’know, whatever. Stuff that Dads do. Mum was only with him for a year or so. To be honest I can’t remember, but I will never forget the long walk back to my Grans that day, when he took me aside to tell me that I couldn’t be in his life anymore. That it wasn’t my fault. I well up as I write this, no-one has scratched the surface since then.
We often forget that kids suffer the most between the turmoil between Mums and Dads. I was seven, but by now I was taking the whole world on my shoulders. Yet another guy that had promised Mum, me, the entire world but delivered nothing in retrospect. I was seven, had just met the father figure of my dreams, and only to be ripped away from him after barely getting to know him. It seemed a long time for me, but the timeframe was probably less than I had imagined. Less than a school year had passed before we were back living with Gran and Grandad again.
And I look back and think, well, these things happen. There were issues between those two that couldn’t be worked out, and if I had known both Mum and Jackie, they wouldn’t have gone down without a fight. So alas, I was kicked out into the nasty world again, another notch to my abandonment issues firmly nested on the bedpost. I always look back, wondering how life would have played out were they both to stick together. I probably wouldn’t have went off the rails, but these events made me the man I am today, and I love being me. So it’s all good. Not to mention the lovely lady I chose to be with and beautiful boy we had. In all honesty, it couldn’t have turned out better.
I have a good relationship with my father-in-law. He’s gentle, kind and he reminds me of my Uncle. He’s always around to give us a hand, and ocassionaly insists that he helps us with certain things. I think that’s what a father should be like. Gentle, kind, insistent, protective, helpful and all those other things. I have a great support network here and it’s the first time in my life I’ve honestly felt grounded. But he’s not my Dad. I mean there’s a certain bond between a father and son regardless of how well they get on, a sort of invisible tie that connects you both. It’s a strange feeling.
I always loved my real Dad. I tried for years and years and years to connect with him, on any level. He was high up in the nuclear industry. I can remember boasting about it to my friends until they were sick to the back teeth of hearing it. How I’d come back from visiting him with a stackload of cash, he’d give me a £50, at 12 years old, and tell me to go out and have fun. I can remember being in Ipswich town centre, asking the lady for some change so that I can go and play the video games. And I also remember getting asked how come I had a 50 on me at that age by some older dudes, and making a swift exit.
My Dad, although excellent with gifts at a younger age lacked the emotional grounding to function like he should have. He was never really there when I needed him, for things that mattered. Like watching me win a golf tournament, or be picked for my national team. I had accepted long ago that he didn’t want me. He didn’t want to be tied down to a family, I gathered this by the amount of people that were surprised when he told them he had a Son, or that when he introduced me to them.
“Wow, John, you have a Son? And he’s all grown up!”
Sort of makes me wonder how many half brothers and sisters I have out there.
It came like a hard punch to the face, with knuckle dusters. I remember sitting there, reminiscing over my life, and thinking, my Dad never really wanted kids, and now he was saddled, with me. And it sort of blew me away for several days. I didn’t know what to think or how to feel, that my Dad, that I loved, never really wanted me. Being in my life was basically a responsibility that he carried out, it was his responsibility as my Dad. But given the choice he would be having fun doing other things. Drinking and womenising more than likely. Those were his two favourite things in the world. It’s a wonder I made it to Marriage, when being exposed to his many activities.
And I look at my Son. I chose to have him. I chose for him to be in my life. I wanted a family. I often wonder what he’ll think of me when he grows up, how different our experiences have been. I was told to man the fuck up and stop being a baby. He gets big hugs and kisses and whenever he’s upset that’s perfectly fine because being upset is natural. For me being upset was wrong. I shouldn’t be upset, ever.
I wrote this today because I was sitting cuddling with my Son, before he went to bed. We sit, cuddled up together before it’s his bedtime, watching something on TV or playing the xbox, and it got me onto thinking. Thinking about my Son. He’ll be growing up not knowing what it’s like to be tossed aside for the latest shiny fiddle, not knowing what it’s like to repeatedly seek my affection yet have that thrown back in his face, and twisted, and warped into something sinister, in an attempt to make him feel worse about himself. No, he’ll only know love without boundaries. A love that snugs him when he’s upset, a love that gifts him the ability to be himself, and a love that, without saying anything to him (we do though!) he’ll just look at Natalie and I, and feel it. The outward admiration of him just being..him
I often feel a momentary pang of jealousy, but then seconds later I realise my wife and I created an awesome loving environment for him. That was us. No-one else. And then I begin to feel damn proud. Of the person that I’ve become, the person I really always wanted to be. And I hope Alex can be too.
Be his awesome little self.